Another question going into the offseason is the open position at catcher. How will the LA Angels address the position?
The LA Angels received limited production out of their catchers during the 2018 season. It’s definitely another concern that Angels’ general manager Billy Eppler is going to have to address.
For the first half of the season, before being traded to the Houston Astros during the trade deadline, Angels’ former catcher Martin Maldonado batted his way to a .223/.284/.332 slash line.
Although his slash line remains unimpressive, his defense and command behind the plate is one of the best in the league, allowing him to win a Gold Glove in 2017. Add in that Maldonado will be a free agent after the season who won’t command that much cash, the chances of bringing back Maldonado on a one-year deal seems likely.
Now, the other half of the season was mostly a platoon of catchers featuring: Jose Briceno, Francisco Arcia and Joe Hudson. Both Arcia and Briceno shows brilliance on occasion, but the two remain inconsistent and seem to be backup role players only. Hudson got a few chances to start, but is destined to continue his development in the minor leagues.
Meanwhile, there are some free agent catchers that are going to be available when the offseason begins.
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Just down the freeway is Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal. While his defense can’t be compared to Maldonado’s defense, he makes up for it with his production at the plate. Grandal’s slash line for the 2018 season sits at .241/.349/.466 with an OPS of .815, showing that he can produce some offensive numbers.
However, Eppler values defense which Grandal is not known for. How much of a factor is that going to play in his decision in signing Grandal?
Also, He’s going to command some cash. According to Spotrac.com, Grandal is set to make $7,900,000 which is about double what Maldonado makes, $3,900,000. If the Angels are going to make a move for him, they may not be able to address other positions including starting pitching and second base which are also needs.
Like Grandal, Wilson Ramos is also a productive catcher at the plate. In fact, Ramos’ numbers at the plate were better than Grandal’s, .306/.358/.487 with an OPS of .845, which led him to becoming an all-star this year.
However, he only threw out 29 percent of would-be-base-stealers, compared to Maldonado’s 49 percent. Again, how much value does Eppler put into his catcher’s defense?
Also, Ramos will command some serious cash as well. According to Spotrac.com, he is set to make $10,500,000 and with him being an all-star this year, his market value is only going to increase more.
Decisions to be made
Along with the managerial position, second base and starting pitching, Eppler is going to have a busy offseason and some crucial decisions are going to be made.
Because of the holes in the infield and at starting pitching, the chances of the Angels spending cash at those positions seems very likely and was later confirmed by Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher.
Since money is going to be thrown at those positions, the chances of the Angels signing a big name catcher looks dim. In return, the chances of the Angels bringing back Maldonado on a cheap, one-year deal seems high.
Perhaps, the Angels will continue to platoon at catcher in order to bring in quality free agents. It wouldn’t be unfamiliar to the Angels, who have platooned left field and first base before.
We also have to consider Mike Trout and his future deal, which would make him the highest paid MLB player in the league.
While the Angels have multiple options at the catcher position, the decision on whether to platoon, bring back Maldonado or bring in a high-priced free agent is going to take much consideration.